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Ashton urges EU unity to carry weight around the world

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Ashton urges EU unity to carry weight around the world
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European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has laid out her agenda before the European Parliament. She said other major world players would take decisions out of Europe’s hands if its many components ignore coherent action on foreign policy.

“The demand for global EU engagement is enormous. We have to ensure that supply matches demand. The Lisbon Treaty gives us such chance. We should act in line with the letter and the spirit of the Treaty, remembering why leaders negotiated the treaty in the first place.”

Ashton is in charge of setting up an EU diplomatic Action Service with thousand of diplomats at work on foreign, aid and trade policies, but bureaucratic infighting has slowed progress.

MEP Arnaud Danjean, specialising in defence, said: “I believe Europe’s voice counts. I believe the member states have understood that, and that’s why they want to pay particularly close attention to how the external action service evolves, not to hamper it, not to contradict it but to make it something truly effective, which really boosts value.”

The EU has reformed its institutions under its new Lisbon treaty, hoping to gain more diplomatic influence to match its trade and business power.